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Then both club nonsense and impetuous pride,
Fools of both sides shall stand for fools alone.' Mackintosh, alluding apparently to this passage of Burke, agrees with Montesquieu that under bad governments one abuse often limits another. . But when the abuse is destroyed, why preserve the remedial evil? Superstition certainly alleviates the despotism of Turkey; but if a rational government could be erected in that empire, it might with confidence disclaim the aid of the Koran, and despise the remonstrances of the Mufti.'
P. 189, 1. 4. In every prosperous community, &c. The well-known doctrines of the French economists of the physiocratic school, popularised some years before by Adam Smith. The arguments here based on them by Burke will be differently estimated by different people. They have no immediate bearing on the main point of the work, and certainly are opposed to, and form a standing censure upon, the deliberate policy of England at the Reformation.
P. 190, 1. 1. as usefully employed, &c. A surprising turn is given to the argument. Burke compares the monastery and the monks with the factory and its then overtasked and degraded "hands.' Public attention was just becoming attracted to the condition of the factory workers, and in 1802 the first Sir Robert Peel succeeded in passing the first of the Factory Acts.
P. 192, 1. 11. whether sole, &c. The phrase is technical. A bishop is an example of a corporation sole.'
1. 12. susceptible of a public direction, &c. This was done, in a remarkable way, at the disestablishment of the Alien Priories by Henry V, when their revenues were largely applied to purposes of education. It was also done to a smaller extent at the English Reformation. The Church and Education, however, on this occasion, were benefited to a less degree than the nobility.
1. 20. commendatory abbots. Those who held inferior benefices in commendam, by way of plurality, an abuse which grew up with many others out of the claims of the Holy See in the twelfth century. Cp, note to p. 173, 1. 20.
1. 22. Can any philosophic spoiler, &c. Bishop Berkeley, Guizot, and Dr. Arnold have brought forward the substance of this excellent argument, which rests on the popular and accessible nature of Church preferment.
P. 193, 1. 20. Here commences the Second Part of the work, which seems to have been resumed after an interval of some months, corresponding with the Parliamentary Session of 1790. Early in the Session, several liberal measures were introduced; but thwarted by the consideration of the prevalence of Jacobinism, Fox's Resolution in favour of the Dissenters, against the Test and Corporation Acts, was opposed by Burke, who cited
passages from Price and Priestley, and proved that the dissenters cared not • the nip of a straw' for the repeal of these Acts (which he said he would have advocated ten years ago), but that their open object was the abolition of Tithes, and State Public Worship. Hood was also defeated in his motion for a Parliamentary Reform Bill.
P. 194, 1. 7. I have taken a review, &c. Burke proceeds to criticise the positive work of the Assembly, and in the first place, after some general remarks, to deal with the nature of the bodies into which the citizens were to be formed for the discharge of their political functions (p. 202). •In this important part of the subject,' says Mackintosh, · Mr. Burke has committed some fundamental errors. It is more amply, more dexterously, and more correctly treated by M. de Calonne, of whose work this discussion forms the most interesting part.'
1. 25. they have assumed another, &c. As the Long Parliament did in England, and as the present Assembly (1874) have done in France. Such assumptions are, under justifying circumstances, in the strigtest sense political necessities. Cp. next page, 1. 10.
1. 32. The most considerable of their acts, &c. This introduces casually the interesting question of the competence of majorities, which Burke so philosophically considers in connexion with the doctrine of National Aristocracy, in the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. He argues that (1) an incorporation produced by unanimity, and (2) an unanimous agreement, that the act of a mere majority, say of one, shall pass as the act of the whole, are necessary to give authority to majorities. Nature, out of civil society, knows nothing of such a constructive whole:' and in many cases, as in an English jury, and formerly in a Polish national council, absolute unanimity was required. This mode of decision (by majorities), where wills may be so nearly equal, where, according to circumstances, the smaller number may be the stronger force, and where apparent reason may be all upon one side, and on the other little less than impetuous appetite—all this must be the result of a very particular and special convention, confirmed afterwards by long habits of obedience, by a sort of discipline in society, and by a strong hand, vested with stationary, permanent power, to enforce this sort of constructive general will.'
P. 195, 1. 19. To make a revolution, &c. Burke did not know that the Revolution had been foreseen and demanded, ever since the middle of the century. The failures of Turgot stimulated expectation; but reformers had for some years been now dejected and weary of waiting. "Men no longer,' says Michelet, “believed in its near approach. Far from Mont Blanc, you see it; when at its foot you see it no more.' Mably, in 1784, thought public spirit too weak to bring it about. No reasons for a revolution were ever asked in France; the only question was, who ought to suffer · by that which was inevitable.
P. 196, 1. 5. a pleader, i. e, not a speaker, but one who draws the pleas, or formal documents used in an action at law, according to set precedents.
1. 31. eloquence in their speeches. There was plenty of fluent speaking, but more of dismal lecturing, in the Assembly. Set speeches were the fashion. Mirabeau is said on more than one occasion to have delivered speeches taken entirely from those of Burke.
1. 33. eloquence may exist, &c. The well-known sentence of Sallust on Catiline: “Satis eloquentiae; sapientiae parum.'
P. 197, 1. 3. no ordinary men. Burke elsewhere compliments the vigilance, ingenuity, and activity of the Jacobins.
1. 20. Pater ipse colendi, &c. Virg. Georg. i. 121.
1. 13. Rage and phrenzy will pull down, &c. So in Preface to Motion, June 14, 1784: 'Its demolition (an independent House of Commons) was accomplished in a moment; and it was the work of ordinary hands. But to construct, is a matter of skill: to demolish, force and fury are sufficient.' The tendencies of the age often prompted similar warnings. 'A fool or a madman, with a farthing candle, may cause a conflagration in a city that the wisest of its inhabitants may be unable to extinguish.' S. Jenyns, Reflections.
1. 15. The errors, &c. This paragraph is in Burke's most striking tone, that of an experienced political philosopher, contemptuously exposing the shallowness of the sciolist.
1. 20. loves sloth and hates quiet. The epigram belongs to Tacitus, Germ. 15: · Mira diversitate naturae, cum iidem homines sic ament inertiam et oderint quietem.'
P. 199, 1. 4. expatiate. In the now almost disused sense = roam at will. Milton, Par. Lost, I. 774. So Pope, Essay on Man:
• The soul, uneasy, and confined from home,
Rests, and expatiates, in a life to come.' 1. 31. the true lawgiver, &c. Aimed at the cold and mathematical Sieyès.
1. 32. to love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. Echoed by Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty:
• Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.' P. 200, 1. 2. Political arrangement, &c. Burke here brings to the question the results of his personal experience. These pages contain fundamental axioms of practical politics.
1. 10. have never yet seen, &c. So South: God has filled no man's intellectuals so full but he has left some vacuities in them that may send him sometimes for supplies to minds of a lower pitch. . . Nay, the greatest abilities are sometimes beholding to the very meanest.'
1. 25. composition, i.e. combined multiplicity.
1. 29. the work itself requires the aid of more minds than one age can furnish. The common notion being that we should complete something
for which posterity will thank our foresight. We do better by so arranging our labours, that posterity may enter into them, and enlarge and complete what we have attained.
1. 34. some of the philosophers. The Schoolmen. •Plastic nature' or plastic virtue' is a phrase intended by them to express the generative or vegetative faculty.
P. 201, l. 15. take their opinions, &c. Chiefly the comedians, e. g. the ridicule of Molière against medicine, of Steele against law.
1. 23. those who are habitually employed, &c. 'By continually looking upwards, our minds will themselves grow upwards; and, as a man by indulging in habits of scorn and contempt for others is sure to descend to the level of what he despises, so the opposite habits of admiration and enthusiastic reverence for excellence impart to ourselves a portion of the qualities which we admire.' Dr. Arnold, Preface to Poetry of Common Life.
1. 31. complexional=constitutional, as at p. 293, 1. 18.
1. 33. quadrimanous activity, i. e. monkey-like, wantonly destructive. Helvetius had remarked, in his peculiar way, on the monkey-like necessity for perpetual activity in children, even after their wants are satisfied. “Les singes ne sont pas susceptible de l'ennui qu'on doit regarder comme un des principes de la perfectibilité de l'esprit humain.'
1. 34. paradoxes of eloquent writers. Burke follows Bishop Warburton in treating all writers who had hinted at revolutionary ideas as mere paradox-mongers. Cardan seems to have been the first: after him comes Bayle, whose opinion that neither religion nor civil society were necessary to the human race is treated as a pleasant paradox by Warburton, Divine Legation, vol. i. p. 76. The immediate allusion is to Rousseau, whose misbegotten Paradoxes' had been long ago exposed by Warburton in the 2nd Book of the Alliance between Church and State.' Burke here maintains the opinion expressed thirty years before in the Annual Register, in reviewing Rousseau's letter to D'Alembert. He thought the paradoxes it contained were, like his own Vindication of Natural Society, intended as satire. He charges him with a tendency to paradox, which is always the bane of solid learning. . .. A satire upon civilized society, a satire upon learning, may make a tolerable sport for an ingenious fancy; but if carried farther it can do no more (and that in such a way surely is too much), than to unsettle our notions of right and wrong, and lead by degrees to universal scepticism.' Mr. Lecky says of Rousseau, ‘He was one of those writers who are eminently destitute of the judgment that enables men without exaggeration to discriminate between truth and falsehood, and yet eminently endowed with that logical faculty which enables them to defend the opinions they have embraced. No one plunged more recklessly into paradox, or supported those paradoxes with more consummate skill.' Hist. of Rationalism,
vol. ii. p. 242.
P. 202, 1. 7. Cicero ludicrously describes Cato, &c. In the Preface to the Paradoxa. See also the Oration Pro Muraena.
1. 12. 'pede nudo Catonem. Hor. Ep. i. 19. 12-14:
· Quid ? si quis vultu torvo ferus, et pede nudo,
Virtutemne repraesentet moresque Catonis ?' I. e. the apparel does not make the philosopher, as the cowl does not make the monk. “Video barbam et pallium-philosophum nondum video.' The bearing of the allusion on the matter is more recondite than is usual with Burke.
1. 12. Mr. Hume told me, &c. Burke seems to err in taking this statement of Rousseau to Hume, whatever its exact purport may have been, as a serious disclaimer of the ostensible ends of his writings.
If ever a man was the serious dupe of his own errors, it was surely Rousseau. It is not improbable,” says Mackintosh, that when rallied on the eccentricity of his paradoxes, he might, in a moment of gay effusion, have spoken of them as a sort of fancy, and an experiment on the credulity of mankind.'
1. 25. I believe, that were Rousseau alive, &c. This is likely enough from some passages in his writings. The following, for instance, on the metaphysical reformers, might have been written by Burke himself: "Du reste, renversant, détruisant, foulant aux pieds tout ce que les hommes respectent, ils ôtent aux affligés la dernière consolation de leur misère, aux puissants et aux riches le seul frein de leurs passions ; ils arrachent du fond des cæurs le remords du crime, l'espoir de la vertu, et se vantent encore d'être les bienfaiteurs du genre humain. Jamais, disent ils, la vérité n'est nuisible aux hommes! Je le crois comme eux; et c'est, à mon avis, une grande preuve que ce qu'ils enseignent n'est pas la vérité.'
P. 203, 1. 31, correctives aberrations. The allusion is to the use of the compass in navigation, as is implied in the next page.
P. 204, 1. 2. In them we often see, &c. Often repeated by Burke, after Aristotle.
1. 20. like their ornamental gardeners. The Jardin Anglais, with its mounds, shrubs, and winding walks, had by this time scarcely become popular on the continent, though the model of Kent was not unknown. The French mechanical style to which Burke alludes was the invention of Le Nôtre, who laid out the gardens of Versailles.
1. 28. regularly square, &c. Burke errs in stating that such a geometrical division and subdivision ever took place. Such plans were discussed, but all the new divisions were limited by natural boundaries. Burke did not see fit to correct the error when pointed out, not considering it material.
P. 205, l. 13. on the system of Empedocles. The allusion seems to be to this philosopher's obscure notion of four successive stages of generation. See Ritter and Preller, Hist. Philos. No. 175.
1 The allusion is to the maxim of the Abbé de Fleury; 'Les lumières philosophiques ne peuvent jamais nuire.'